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Columbian Lawyers get a look at arraignments from a judge’s perspective

November 5, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik (center) — pictured with President RoseAnn C. Branda (left) and executive director Lucy DiSalvo (right) — was the guest speaker at the Columbian Lawyers Association’s latest CLE seminar on Wednesday. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn hosted Criminal Court Judge Miriam Cyrulnik Wednesday for its latest Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar, held at Rex Manor in Dyker Heights. Speaking to a crowd of more than 100, Cyrulnik delivered a speech titled “Arraignments from a Judge’s Perspective.”  

“Judge Cyrulnik is one of the most dynamic speakers for any kind of CLE, which is the reason why we invited her to speak,” said President of the Columbian Lawyers Association RoseAnn C. Branda. “She really knows how to capture a room’s attention. She is an excellent judge who is extremely well-respected in Kings County, and has been sitting on the criminal side for quite a while.”

An arraignment is the formal reading of the criminal charges brought against a defendant, where the defendant is expected to enter a plea.

With such a large and diverse group of attorneys and judges in attendance, including both criminal and civil practitioners, Judge Cyrulnik touched on many different details of arraignments, from the very basic to the nitty-gritty.

“The purpose of arraignments is very specific — there might be a disposition in the case, whether by plea or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” Cyrulnik said. “If there is no disposition, notices are served, the court determines the defendant’s bail and the court sets conditions of release, if those apply.”

One thing Cyrulnik stressed to the group was that criminal judges can hear between 60 and 80 arraignments per day, so the readings must be succinct.

“You want to provide sufficient information to the judge so he or she can make rapid decisions,” Cyrulnik said. “Since a typical arraignment shift can mean hearing 60 or 80 cases, judges simply do not have the time to review cases at a leisurely pace, which means you don’t have time to work at a leisurely pace either.”

Judge Cyrulnik captivated the audience with insider tips for how to best handle arraignments, and her stories about her experience on the bench provided context as to why they are important.

“You’re focusing on what’s positive during the arraignments,” she suggested. “Essentially, you want to highlight every positive thing. Keep in mind that you have to maintain your credibility when you come to court.”

The Columbian Lawyers’ next meeting will be its 48th annual smorgasbord and cocktail party celebrating the Italian heritage of its member judges. It will be on held on Thursday, Dec. 3 at Gargiulo’s in Coney Island. Its next CLE session will be on Jan. 12, 2016 with guest speaker Hon. Barbara I. Panepinto at Nino’s Restaurant in Staten Island.


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